RAF pilots in charge of Afghan mercy flights reveal details of their heroic escapades

THE RAF pilots who were in charge of Afghan mercy flights have revealed details of their heroic escapades.

One described the terror of taking off in Kabul and avoiding a moving bus on the runway by just ten feet — with no lighting.

The specifics of their life or death decision-making emerged after they evacuated 14,000 people in less than two weeks following the capital’s fall to the Taliban, with the airport the only route out.

Wing Commander Kev Latcham, of 99 Squadron, landed as small explosions were going off.

He said the “whole airfield was chaos” as he tried to get 365 people to safety.

He revealed: “The airfield lighting went down – it was either due to an explosion or the generator had gone out.”

And he had to pull off an emergency manoeuvre to avoid the bus during take-off.

He added: “We got airborne about 200 feet from the bus and cleared the bus by about ten feet. That was pretty scary. The guy on the tower said he was praying for us.”

Flight lieutenant Neil Franklin, 40, described the terror of failing to land because hundreds of civilians packed the runway.

He said: “We went again the next day and got over 100 men, women and children out.”

Paras chief Brigadier James Martin also saluted his troops who sprinted to save women and children from the carnage of the airport suicide blast.

He suggested US troops even shot into the crowd when the bomb went off and it was sheer fluke Brit soldiers were not killed.

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